RICHMOND, Va. -- Liz Dukette’s heart and soul rests on two wheels. She stocks her custom-built refrigerated trailer like the produce section at a supermarket.
“We’re order based, so we don’t pre-bag anything,” explained Liz.
Liz hatched the idea a few years ago and keeps rolling along.
“Right now our biggest success is the mobile produce pantry,” said Liz.
A small space is reserved for a big mission. “So now we open up both doors and put people at each end,” described Liz.
The woman from Chesterfield is the founder of World Up: a nonprofit that gives access to life-improving resources.
“With carrots like this, we’ll probably give out two or three because they are so huge,” said Liz.
She delivers veggies and fruits to so-called food deserts across Richmond about six times a month.
“We’re not just feeding people. We’re reducing the burden of having to choose between paying a bill and buying food,” said Liz.
On this particular day, the Mobile Produce Pantry sets up shop on the city’s northside, where demand is great.
“This definitely gives more health benefits in the long run,” said Liz.
What makes this mobile pantry special, is that each item at no cost.
“We give out the produce for free,” said Liz. “I would say most people give donations. We don’t request it or even ask.”
Liz and her team of volunteers said it is vital that people have access to healthy foods.
“There is no bad way to start out your day if your feeding and helping people get food,” said Liz.
Last year, she and her organization helped roughly 500 families eat better.
“We are here. We are here to be a staple for the community and I don’t foresee us going anywhere anytime soon,” she said.
World Up teams up with Feed More.
“It is overwhelming and amazing sometimes. Without our partners, we couldn’t have done it. Without our donors, we couldn’t have done it,” said Liz.
Rodrigo Arriaza with Feed More described Liz’s efforts and partnership as priceless.
“World Up joined Feed More as a partner in 2019. And they are our first mobile partner,” said Rodrigo. “Again, having a resource like this come out to where you are makes it very easy and very accessible. It is really indispensable.”
Liz said no person should go without access to fresh produce.
“Food access shouldn’t be a problem. I think it would be the best day ever if we didn’t need to exist right? If people just had food,” said Liz. “These communities are getting seasonal produce.”
This year, the founder of World Up plans to open a brick-and-mortar location to expand her mission. Until then, Liz Dukette will keep rolling along by filling stomachs with nutritious foods and filling hearts with love.
“It’s not the food, it’s the people. It is the gratitude and the life and starting out your weekend knowing that you did something that makes a difference,” said Liz. “What’s the point of living if you’re not making a difference, in my opinion at least.”
World Up's Mobile Pantry sets up about six times every month across Richmond. If you would like to find their locations or donate to the cause, click here.
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